It was doubtful this final preseason game would be played at all as a huge downpour flooded the field an hour before the scheduled start— but two hours later, the MetLife grounds were dry enough to carry on. I guess I owe an apology to the New Jersey Sports Authority, which I had criticized previously for lousy drain design and turf management.
Anyway, in retrospect, I’m glad they got the dang game in, as there were a few Eagles and Eagles hopefuls who shined, and we got to see some progress on the 2nd team offense.
So it ended in a 31-31 tie, but EYE thought the Eagles (playing nearly all second and third stringers on both sides of the ball) whipped the Jets in the first half. The Jets had a few first-teamers in the mix, too.
There would be no Jalen Hurts or Zach Wilson in this exhibition, however, so both teams tested their backup QBs.
Joe Flacco started for Philadelphia and threw two touchdown passes in the first half against his former team. Flacco, who spent last season as the backup to Sam Darnold, found Boston Scott down the right sideline for a 49-yard touchdown.
Josh Johnson, who could end up being the backup to Wilson, matched Flacco with an impressive opening series. He found Lawrence Cager on a fade for a 2-yard TD to tie it.
The Eagles came right back on Kenneth Gainwell‘s 5-yard run up the middle to put Philadelphia up 14-7. The 10-play, 78-yard drive was helped by a personal foul penalty on Bryce Hall, projected to be one of New York’s starting cornerbacks.
After Matt Ammendola‘s 31-yard field goal made it 14-10, Flacco tossed his second touchdown pass in the closing seconds of the half, He found J.J. Arcega-Whiteside for 42 yards, helped by poor tackling attempts by Isaiah Dunn and Elijah Campbell in coverage.
Flacco was 13 of 16 for 188 yards and the two scores. Johnson finished 7 of 8 for 73 yards and the TD.
Nick Mullens had his best game of the preseason, going 10-14 for 98 yards and no interceptions in the 2nd half for the Eagles. New York was trailing 24-10 when Ty Johnson had a 3-yard run up the middle for a score as time expired in the third quarter.
Morgan, who replaced starter Josh Johnson after halftime, connected with Yeboah for a 21-yard touchdown with 6:59 left to bring New York within a point.
With no overtime in the preseason, coach Robert Saleh opted to go for a go-ahead 2-point conversion. But Zech McPhearson intercepted Morgan’s toss in the end zone to keep it a one-point game.
The Jets got the ball back with 1:38 to go and a chance to win. On third-and-7, Morgan completed a pass to Daniel Brown for a first down. But the tight end had the ball ripped out of his hands by Michael Jacquet, who ran it in for what appeared to be a win-sealing 32-yard touchdown.
But New York got the ball back with 59 seconds remaining and sent the Jets fans home happy — with a tie. James Morgan threw a 49-yard Hail Mary to Kenny Yeboah as time expired and Josh Adams ran in the 2-point conversion for the tie.
Arcega-Whiteside was one of five Eagles who made a good case to stay on the 53-man roster by playing well in the 31-31 tie, according to Chris Franklin at NJ.com:
“Arcega-Whiteside had the aforementioned touchdown catch. On the ensuing kickoff, he went down the field and tackled Jets returner Vyncent Smith. DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, Quez Watkins are all locks to make the team. Ward is a reliable receiver in the middle of the field making him the fourth receiver and Fulgham has shown he can be a good receiver. The final spot is between Hightower and Arcega-Whiteside, with the latter now having the edge.”
McGill had two sacks on Friday and was constantly in the backfield, flushing Jets quarterbacks out of the pocket. Entering his seventh season, McGill is in a similar position as Tuipulotu, fighting for one of the four defensive tackles. Unlike Tuipulotu, McGill is a better pass rusher and can play in either a three-man or four-man defensive front.
DT Marlon Tuipoltu
Tuipolutu has not had a banner camp, having issues with getting penetration on the defensive line as well as being pushed off the ball with ease at times. However, within the last few practices, Tuipoluto has picked it up.
The sixth-round draft pick had two good plays on the goal line possession by the Jets in the first quarter, getting good penetration and filling his gap. His penetration did not allow Jets running back Ty Johnson to find any room.
Tuipolutu finished with four total tackles in the game. The Eagles seemed set at the first three defensive tackle spots with Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave and Hassan Ridgeway. In short-yardage situations, having Tuipolutu play nose tackle on odd fronts make sense. However, Tuipolutu seemed destined for the practice squad.
“Hightower has been trying to get one of the final wide receiver spots on the roster, and his performance Friday may have helped him out.
Hightower caught 3 passes for 21 yards. His route running looked crisp, and he appeared to find the soft spots in the Jets zone coverage. Hightower also returned a kickoff and was a gunner on the punt team.”
“Toth has quietly put together a good training camp and may have solidified his status on the team with a strong performance Friday. “
During Kenny Gainwell’s 5-yard touchdown run, Toth did a good job of getting to the second level to seal off the linebacker, allowing for Gainwell to easily get into the end zone. Toth also showed some athleticism by getting out in open space and blocking on screens.
“Toth, who typically plays tackle, was playing guard last night. His versatility is something the Eagles look for in their offensive linemen, making him more valuable.”
Other notable performances—
We finally got to see Andre Dillard in preseason action.
After dealing with a knee injury, the 2019 first-round pick was suited up and without a knee brace for the first time since returning last week. Dillard held his own for the most part at left tackle. He had chip blocks helping him a few times during the first few drives, but only let up one or two pressures after playing the entire first half.
Dillard played even after reserve linemen Jack Driscoll and Sua Opeta got yanked for rest, illustrative that the team wanted to see plenty of Dillard, whether it’s because he needed the reps or perhaps to showcase him to potential trade suitors.
Philadelphia will now spend the next four days working to cut the roster down to 53 players by Tuesday, August 31 at 4:00 p.m.